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Shaman - Sculpture by Karoo Ashevak

Religare, return to the soul.

The religiosity of marihuana use is nothing like the religiosity of formal religions, as defined already over 2000 years ago by Roman statesman Cicero, as a diligent reading - re-legere - and performance of rituals, instituted by tradition and the very cosmic order. After having complied with the gods, always according to this definition, the citizen could again pay attention to the normal mundane matters of everyday life. The religiosity we experience is more in conformity with the one defended by church father Lactantius who, refuting Cicero, held that we are related to God through a bond of piety. Religion, according to Lactantius, did not come from the verb relegere, but from the verb re-ligare, that is from renewing the bond with the holy spirit. We note here how in early Christianity religiosity had developed from a pure ritual into an introspection of one’s own person in relation to God. But the religare of Lactantius is still a religiosity tied to the idea of a particular divine power, an ideology many people nowadays find impossible to take seriously.

The essence of the religiosity of marihuana use is that it is not tied to a doctrine. On the contrary, it is directed against all forms of doctrine. In the way that in Vedic mythology the god Indra, fortified by marihuana, kills the dragon so life can rejuvenate, and that in Zoroastrianism, again thanks to the divine Haoma – read marihuana – the Lie can be conquered, in that same way marihuana use performs a mental cleansing, purifying the soul of all ideology. This is a psychological process – light or overwhelming – that each user experiences. It can be a painful process, in which your ego dies a bit, at times a lot, so that some people smoking marihuana for the first time will cry out desperately for a doctor or a priest. But generally speaking this process is mild and of a short duration, like a shiver rolling over you, after which you’ll be able to fully enjoy the ecstatic experience.

That means that as your ‘I’, so to speak, goes up in smoke, the others around you suddenly become more visible, understandable, enabling you to appreciate their company as never before. Your personality which, as Sartre deftly said fifty years ago, has come to experience the others as hell, cannot hinder you any longer. Your soul now arises out of the depths of your inner being and incites you to embrace the others. Your soul, imprisoned in a tower made of thousands of years of alienating acculturation, can now manifest itself in all its glory and joy. Thanks to our medicine of nature we are again able to religare, to enjoy spiritual life, something humanity had unlearned since it was forced at the beginning of official history to swallow a prescribed spirituality.

Marihuana consumption is a religious ritual par excellence, originating in shamanic times when life was dictated by nature and the necessity of a symbiotic relation of man and his surrounding world. It is only at the moment when shamans started developing doctrines and became the prophets of official religions, that the religiosity of the ecstatic experience starts to be questioned. With the refinement of the doctrines and their crystallization in written texts, the prophets eventually lost out against the priests, the masters of doctrines and muzzlers of the soul.

It is striking how also Jesus, who publicly cursed the priests in the temple for their wicked behaviour, taught that the first will be the last and that in order to find yourself you first will have to lose yourself. This psychological insight about reaching ‘heaven’, here and now, is exactly what the ecstatic high teaches us. In a later period the Christian message turns heaven into a place we can earn, only after death though, at the end of times and after having piously followed the rituals prescribed by church leaders, irrespective of their creed. But that story can harm us no longer. Thanks to nature’s medicine we’ve regained the bond with our own nature. Long live Marihuana! For making this world a better place to live in.